In Kentucky this month, Mother Nature decided to forgo fall altogether and instead provide us with a reminder of what the Ice Age was like! This change in the weather meant digging out coats and winter clothes for my kids, and the realization that my 14-year-old's coat almost fits my 11-year-old, and the 11-year-old's coat doesn't fit the 6-year-old. And, the 14-year-old's pants don't fit the 11-year-old, but the 11-year-old's pants do fit the 6-year-old. My 14-year-old had no pants, and my 6-year-old had no coat!
The Smyth boys' wardrobes were in complete disarray, so that meant embarking on a journey to the one place we all hate: Fayette Mall! Now, not only do we all try to avoid the mall, but, as soon as we walked in, we realized we'd been time-warped straight into Christmas - and we haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet!
Some of the moments from our mall adventure did make me question my life decisions, and some just made me laugh. We started with my 14-year-old, and while shopping at American Eagle, I realized that flannel and plaid are suddenly cool again. All the clothes for teens look like my high school and college wardrobes! I'd be one of the hip ones if I'd just kept all those old boxes of clothes. But, we did cross off a jacket, a jean jacket, other cool-kid jackets, a cold-weather jacket to wear over the jean jacket, some new jeans and long-sleeve shirts for my eldest.
For the 11-year-old, I discovered that no matter how much one prefers to wear jeans or khakis, and, going forward, pull-string sweatpants, one can never have enough beanies for the cold weather. We also checked off a warm jacket, and plenty of clean socks and underwear, because it's easier than doing laundry. Or buying more bleach.
For my 6-year-old, well, even though he's only 6, he's been traumatized so much as a UK fan that he actually picked out a Florida Gators hoodie. When I asked him why, he responded that a gator is a fiercer animal, and they always beat the Cats anyway. It appears he's already learned a useful life lesson: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! He's also something of a fashionista. He likes shirts in rainbow colors, pants in rainbow colors, beanies in primary colors, and he even picked out a Christmas sweater. (If you'd like to see it, stop by our Christmas Open House on Thursday, December 5, between 4 and 7 p.m. He'll be wearing it!)
Outside of the realization on this shopping trip that we'd been catapulted into Christmas a bit early, it was a fun opportunity to learn about my boys' unique personalities and taste in clothes. I came away feeling truly grateful that, as a parent, I have the opportunity to build unique relationships with each of my children, no matter their ages. While I was still horrified by the idea of being in a mall, I came away smiling to myself about each of their quirks that keep developing as they age. All three of my boys are so different from me and from each other, but I came away from this experience feeling truly grateful for the life lessons they continue to teach me. We're all different, and that's okay.
As you get together this Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones, re-read my story above and substitute in your family. Think about your wacky Uncle Joe, or your son-in-law, or your daughters who do everything exactly the same, and ponder how they're different from you. Be intentional about celebrating your family traditions, but also be intentional in embarking on new traditions as new generations are added to your table. Let's celebrate each other's uniqueness and, as my mom always does when the pie is served, take a moment to go around the table and voice what we're each thankful for. You'll probably be surprised by what you hear.